Living with Florida's humidity
How many times in your lifetime have you said "It's not the heat it's the humidity?" If you're like most Florida residents those words have come out of your mouth at least once every summer. This age old axiom is exactly right since the body's perception of comfort is directly related to the level of humidity in the air. But what about the comfort of your home, how is the most important asset in your life dealing with Florida summers?
Many homeowners believe lowering the temperature on the air conditioning will result in cooler, dryer interior air. However, most air conditioning experts will tell you that increasing the air conditioning will do nothing for the level of humidity except cost you money. In addition, it has the potential to increase condensation and possible water damage and mold growth promoting wall, floor and ceiling warping.
Excessive mold growth in homes particularly behind wall board can lead to the necessity of replacing or chemically cleaning not only wall board but also wood framing. This is a very expensive process which is frequently not covered by homeowners' insurance policies unless specifically purchased.
High levels of humidity can also create mold and mildew on carpeting and draperies, wet stains on walls and ceilings and a failure of paint and warping woodwork. Even musty smells and lingering odors can make you uncomfortable and infiltrate and stick to every porous surface including all of the fabrics in your home including clothing.
It is also generally accepted that controlling the level of humidity in your home will allow your air conditioning system to work more efficiency resulting in lower electrical costs.
There are several ways to control the humidity in your home. Centralized dehumidifiers are attached to existing central air conditioning systems and must be professionally installed. This system is convenient, not obtrusive and removes a very high percentage of water from the air. Portable dehumidifiers can be purchased in most home improvement stores and installed by homeowners. These portable units need to be moved from room to room in order to maintain proper humidity levels, require constant maintenance and remove a lesser percentage of water from the air.
Another method of controlling humidity is a humidistat. A humidistat helps control the circulation of air in coordination with the air conditioning unit. This has become a very popular system especially for part time Florida residents who may be absent during some of the more humid months.
In addition to harming your home and increasing your energy costs, having an excess of humidity can, of course, create a health risk because of poor air quality in the home. Mold, mildew, dust mites and bacteria thrive in damp environments, and these microbiological agents can affect a person's respiratory system especially for people who suffer from asthma and allergies.
The bottom line on humidity is that the less of it in your home the better. Not only will you and your family be more comfortable and possibly healthier but the structure of your home and longevity of its contents extended.
We all pay the price for living in a semi-tropical climate. Even if you personally have no problem tolerating the summer humidity, you still need to be aware that your home may not feel the same way.
It's not the heat, it's the humidity; you better believe it.